Back to School
It will not be long until the school doors swing open, signaling the start of a new school year. It seems like just yesterday that summer began, yet it has swiftly slipped away. As the days grow shorter, I find myself yearning for them to stretch out a little longer. Why, you ask? Well, because all of my precious grandchildren will soon embark on their educational journey. My little Alden will begin Kindergarten, Abram in 3rd grade and Aubrey will be in 10th grade. Oh how can it be?
It’s hard to fathom how quickly time has passed. As a teacher, it always felt like just yesterday I was a student myself, eagerly anticipating the first day of school. I can remember standing in my own classroom on the top floor of the very school I attended as a child. I could not help but notice how it had aged over the years. The familiar halls hold echoes of memories, and the air carries a sense of nostalgia. This would be the final year of this school. It was a special moment for me.
I can vividly recall my early days as a wide-eyed kindergartener, learning to tie my shoes with patience and guidance from my teacher. It was here that I forged friendships, like the one I had with Tammy, who kindly buttoned my coat when my tiny fingers struggled. Yet, alongside these fond recollections, there are also lingering shadows of not-so-pleasant moments, memories that still haunt me to this day. The tunnel we had to go through which went under the main road to protect us from the dangers of the cars, but not from the scary boys who taunted me. Just one day I can recall very clearly when the teacher called me out and sent me to the hall. Yelling at me, threatening to call my mom and getting the other teacher all because she thought I had signed the test paper, but she did not know me or my family at all. This is where I learned school was not a place I could feel good or safe.
My advice to all of the teachers, please let your students know who you are on the first day. Let them get to know you in a fun and exciting way! Also help them understand the expectations, routines and procedures. Consistency each day is the best way so start on day one.
Please go to my website to the resource page and locate the Artifact Bag. Work know to prepare this for your students to work in groups to try to discover all of the clues about you! Make it unique, exciting, interesting, a cool way to solve and be creative. Kids will “dig” it! I am planting the seed of a way to get the kids talking, collaborating and being excited about having you as their teacher. This is what we want for the first day and all the way to the last day.
Please feel free to come back to share pictures, post your ideas and let us all see how great it is on the first day! I can’t wait to see all you will do! I am getting excited just thinking about it!
When you are doing your expectations, routines and procedures share with us all of that as well! Please, Please….someone do the Two Rules.
- Then get to know your students in a fun way as well! Let them get to know each other as well. It is important to build these important relationships from the very beginning and always check on them regularly.
Data Rich-Information Poor & Labels placed-No Actions taken
For years, educators have been encouraged to prioritize student data in their professional learning communities, team activities, and other initiatives. The prevailing wisdom has been that understanding current performance is crucial in order to make a positive impact on student learning outcomes. However, recent research has shed new light on this approach. After conducting and reviewing numerous studies over an extended period, researchers have discovered that the emphasis on analyzing student data has generally failed to yield improvements in learning outcomes. I know I have said and heard others say, “We are data rich and information poor.” Meaning we have all of this data we go over, but what are we doing with it?
While it is undeniably important to identify areas where students struggle, need improvement, or excel, this is merely the first step. Far too often, the focus has been solely on collecting and analyzing student data, without translating that information into meaningful changes in learning support and engagement. As a result, learning outcomes rarely see any significant changes. Action steps need to follow with steps to take and a timeline to follow.
The researchers observed that educators invest significant time and effort into data analysis, but the process often falters when it comes to the utilization of that data. The reasons behind this lack of effective follow-through appear to be diverse.
One common response, as noted by the researchers, is to attribute a student’s struggles to non-instructional factors, such as difficulties at home, lack of study habits, or poor test-taking skills. Consequently, no specific instructional or learning experience modifications are suggested or implemented. Essentially, the problem is acknowledged, but the cause is perceived as beyond the teacher’s control, leading to a lack of action.
Another frequent response is to place students on “watch lists” or assign them similar designations, without taking any specific actions to improve their current performance or address existing learning barriers. Merely observing a struggling student offers little promise for performance improvement. Meanwhile, time is wasted, the curriculum moves forward, and interventions often come too late to alter learning outcomes. However, if utilizing the components within the Two Rule Philosophy, the SOS (System of Support) will provide the action plan with all of the individuals needed to be present in the meeting to develop a plan to support all of the needs. A copy of the SOS and meeting contract will be coming to the resource page soon. It is part of my book which is not published at this time, but my goal is to get it published soon. I have not found the right place to publish yet and the best way to do it to benefit you. I do not want you to wait to have materials in your hands to begin implementing. I will have more and more for you! My goal is to continue to support, provide resources and guide.
Merely knowing that a student is underperforming offers little benefit unless the underlying causes of their struggles are also understood. Merely reteaching a concept or skill without altering our approach provides limited benefits to learners who were unable to grasp the material initially. In fact, if the initial instruction led to confusion or misconceptions, repeating the process, even at a slower pace, risks reinforcing that confusion and further entrenching misconceptions. Ultimately, unless our analysis of student data leads to thoughtful, well-informed changes in instructional practices and adjustments in students’ learning experiences, improvements in learning outcomes will remain elusive. Doing the same thing over and over, will get the same results.
It is crucial to uncover the “real story” behind the data. Often, the only way to discover the root causes of students’ struggles is by involving the students themselves in the process. Two Rules Philosophy believes in having students actively involved in every aspect of the learning journey. Remember, “Education is something we do with children, not to them.”
While we can speculate about the reasons behind their difficulties, students can provide firsthand insights and context if we invite and support their participation. Of course, some students may initially feel discouraged and require coaching, while others may be hesitant to admit and discuss areas in which they struggle, necessitating the reduction of perceived risks. On the other hand, certain students may possess the necessary skills and level of insight to reflect on their learning experiences, enabling them to become partners in constructing a path to improvement.
The benefits of including students in the process of analyzing data, understanding the underlying causes of their struggles, and designing personalized learning paths extend far beyond simply recognizing that there is a problem. When students become active participants in their own learning, they are more likely to be committed and persistent, even in the face of challenges. Furthermore, they become better equipped to navigate future learning difficulties when they are not guided and supported by educators. This is being part of the solution.
As we look at the key takeaway from the researchers’ findings, analyzing student data alone is insufficient to drive improvements in learning outcomes. Instead, educators must use the data to inform meaningful changes in instructional practices and learning experiences. By involving students in the process and understanding the root causes of their struggles, we can create a collaborative environment that fosters commitment, persistence, and independent problem-solving skills, ultimately leading to more significant and sustainable improvements in student learning outcomes. Applying the Two Rule Philosophy students will feel good about themselves and gain all of the skills needed as they grow.
Resources for the blog:
Hill, H. C. (February 7, 2020). Does studying student data really raise test scores? Education Week.